At first I didn’t recognize her.  Well, I didn’t recognize her specifically, anyway, but I’m not talking about the individual here. I can give a lot of reasons why I hadn’t noticed it immediately: she was standing in the doorway framed by the sun, and she had legs that distracted me poking out from under a tight dress of charcoal grey. She had ringlets of pure saffron masquerading as hair, held back with a black clip. Her eyes were covered by expensive amber sunglasses.

Have I asked permission enough for my digressions?  Because I’m about to take you on another short trip.  See, I knew she was fey.  Not, like, bubbly and a trifle on the wild side, but one of, well, them.

And you’ve read too much urban fantasy.  See, they’re just another demon to me.  Another thing that slips past the boundaries and makes trouble.  Just because they’re ridiculously attractive doesn’t mean they’re all that different from the -cubi.

Well, except they’re practitioners.  I’ve never met one who has stayed on this side of the wall who couldn’t wipe out one of the Tough Guys without breaking a sweat.  What we know as Reality scrapes and bends for them.  Oh, and they open and close portals as easy as breathing.

I kind of think of them as my nemesis.  Nemeses.  You know what I mean.

So modern fiction would have you believe they live in two, maybe three groupings, often called “Courts.”  Let me abuse you of this notion immediately; the only thing the fey bow down to is power.  So, sure, there might be a named Oberon or Mab out there, but if they’re titled, it’s delusions of grandeur… or, at least, glamour.

They have that much right, at any rate.  You can’t do glamour without the aether-dominated blood and something of similarity to back it up.  Feasts from a single kernel of corn? No problem.  You could even survive on it for a while if you had to…but interaction with their shadow of reality leaves one pale and wan… just like most of the drawings of the fey, right?  It changes you, no doubt, to the point that you are no longer able to synchronize with the real world.

Well, this one at any rate.

Alright, so that was just a side trip.  Back to the moment.

She was lost and confused and I wasn’t buying it for an instant.

My temporary position was with a waste processing facility.  Everyone occasionally needs someone who can answer phones and dance their way around an alphabet, even if I was sometimes a little confused if it went, “JIH” rather than “HIJ” when put to the test.  I put on my best professional face.

“Can I help you, miss?”

Oh, if I hadn’t been a simple mortal I might bow and scrape a little too.  They like games, after all.  But to a simple mortal, she was just a pretty girl, and I was just the dumb bloke behind the desk.

She came up in a flounce.  “Oh!” she said, a perfect moue belying her casual manner.

Bleepin’ fairies.  They can turn even your internal prose pretty darn purple.

“I seem to have been misdirected.”  Most people would have said “lost,” but really, Lewis Carroll does write their dialogue.  “I am looking for a doctor’s office.”  She handed me a piece of paper.

I considered not taking it from her, but once her hands moved away from it, it could not be considered a gift.  It was an offering, instead.  Big difference when dealing with the peskie ones.  Gifts put you in their debt, if you are on the wrong end of Hospitality.  (Hospitality is a whole ‘nother story.  I am learning it since it does have to do with boundaries, and some things like traditional vampires can be dispelled through the right manipulation of it, but it’s like a whole rulebook of its own.)  In this case, as an offering, there were no ties to bind.

I wasn’t sure what I was really going to be seeing, but there was something that looked like it could have come from Google.  I tried disbelieving it just to see if that worked, but nothing seemed to change.  She smelled like flowers after the rain.

The directions were right in that they led here.  The problem was bigger than that.  See, it took me a second to look – I had missed the destination.

She was looking for me.